Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder with recurring panic attacks. Panic attacks are episodes of intense anxiety and fear, often with heart palpitations, subjective difficulties of breathing, sweating, and other symptoms. They are usually associated with intense fear of imminent death or danger to the individual. Often panic attacks recede quite quickly, before any short-term anxiolytic medication can work. Panic attacks and anxiety disorders seem to run in families and are often associated with depression and OCD. Also, they are frequently paired with agoraphobia, and, in the extreme, can lead to people staying at home all the time.
Hyperventilation with rapid and shallow breathing can cause changes in the blood pH level, which frequently maintains the panic attack until the breathing normalises again.
Psychotherapy and counselling can be effective in the treatment of panic disorder.